Path to the Vote

1870

Victoria Woodhull campaigns for the U.S. presidency

Victoria Woodhull campaigns for the U.S. presidency

1870-1872 | The first woman nominated as a presidential candidate (in 1872), Woodhull represented the Equal Rights Party and championed women’s suffrage. She had already started the first female-operated brokerage firm on Wall Street with her sister, Tennessee Claflin. Photo: Beecher-Tilton cards no. 1 : H.W. Beecher, Theodore Tilton, Tennie C. Claflin, Victoria Woodhull. 1872, carte de visite, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

The Michigan State Suffrage Society forms in Battle Creek

The Michigan State Suffrage Society forms in Battle Creek becoming the first statewide organization dedicated to gaining the right to vote for women. The Society dissolves several years later, disheartened after voters reject the 1874 statewide suffrage amendment.

The University of Michigan Regents pass a resolution to accept women

U of M accepts women

Madelon Stockwell is the first woman to enroll, entering in February as a sophomore. Julia Elizabeth Knight enrolls in June as a freshman. Read More: A Chronology of Women at the University of Michigan Photo: Certificate of Matriculation for Julia Knight, June 25, 1870, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

1871

Women challenge Michigan voting restrictions.

Two suffragists successfully vote: Mary Wilson in Battle Creek and Nanette Gardner in Detroit, who is permitted because she is a taxpayer and, as a widow, her interests could not be represented by her husband.Catherine Stebbins attempted to register to vote in Detroit’s first Ward, following Gardner’s success. She petitioned the Detroit Board of Registration, arguing on basis of human rights and US Constitution. Denied, her petition and the ensuing.. READ MORE

1872

Susan B. Anthony is arrested and brought to trial for voting

Susan B. Anthony is arrested and brought to trial for voting for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election. Although she had successfully registered to vote in Rochester, NY, she is tried in federal court for the crime of voting without “the legal right to vote in said election district … being then and there a person of the female sex.”

Sojourner Truth is turned away from the polls in Battle Creek.

Sojourner Truth is turned away from the polls in Battle Creek.

Having campaigned for Grant in Michigan, Truth demands to register to vote. Denied but undaunted, she appears at the polling station on Election Day to argue for her voting rights as a citizen, property owner, and taxpayer. Amid heated debate over the 14th and 15th amendments, Truth urged women to solidarity and steadfastness: “Before I leave [the world], I want to see equality … to see women have their rights... READ MORE

1874

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union is founded

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union is founded

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union is founded by Annie Wittenmyer. Under Frances Willard (1876), the WCTU becomes a force for women’s suffrage, while the liquor lobby frantically works to prevent women’s enfranchisement, fearing that women might use the vote to enact prohibition. The Michigan chapter of the WCTU formed in Grand Rapids in 1875. Photo: Eighteenth Amendment League, Your vote will stop them, 1919/1933, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

Suffrage amendment makes it onto the ballot in Michigan

Suffrage amendment makes it onto the ballot in Michigan but is defeated by a wide margin of 135,957 to 40,077. Michigan’s campaign drew national attention and support from leading suffrage figures, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, while strong opposition came from the liquor interests.

1878

A women’s suffrage amendment is introduced in the U.S. Congress

The wording is unchanged in 1919, when the amendment finally passes both houses.

1880

Belva Ann Lockwood is first woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court

Belva Ann Lockwood is first woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court after working to gain female attorneys admission to the bar of the high Court. Lockwood was also the Equal Rights Party’s candidate for President in 1884 and 1888, campaigning on a platform of women’s equality, including suffrage and reform of marriage and divorce laws.

Works Consulted

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote. Elaine Weiss. Penguin Books, 2019. 

Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote. Susan Ware. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019. 

Sojourner Truth’s America. Margaret Washington. University of Illinois Press, 2009. 

“Declaration of Sentiments.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Report of the Woman’s Rights Convention, Held at Seneca Falls, New York, July 19 and 20, 1848. Printed by John Dick, Rochester, NY, The North Star office of Frederick Douglass, 1848. 

The History of Woman Suffrage. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Gage. Vol. I: 1835-1860. New York, Fowler & Wells, 1881.  

Lucretia Mott. Diary of Her Visit to Great Britain to Attend the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840. Edited by Frederick B. Tolles, supplement no. 23, Journal of the Friends’ Historical Society. Friends’ Historical Association and Friends’ Historical Society, 1952. 

Crusade for the Vote. Online exhibit and resource. National Women’s History Museum.

Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote. June 4, 2019 – Sept. 2020. The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence. March 29, 2019  January 5, 2020. National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. 

Liberty Awakes in Washtenaw County: When Women Won the Vote. Jan. 8 – Feb. 27, 2011. The Museum on Main Street, Ann Arbor, sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area League of Women Voters.

Women’s History Timeline, The Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame, Lansing, MI.

National Park Service. Women’s History Website, “19th Amendment,”, and “Suffrage in America: The 15th and 19th Amendments” series. https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/15th-and-19th-amendments.htm

“US Voting Rights Timeline,” Northern California Citizenship Project. https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/15th-and-19th-amendments.htm

“Who got the right to vote when? A History of Voting Rights in America” AlJezera.

Image Sources

William L. Clements Library Image Bank, University of Michigan.

Bentley Historical Library Image Bank, University of Michigan.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.